Imperial Elections

By Gilbert Mercier and Dady Chery

It was her turn. Somewhere a few wise men had decided this. The only problem was a logistical one. It was the perennial dilemma of legitimizing and celebrating this choice with a staged plebiscite. In a lame-duck season, inciting wars, chasing bogeymen, aiming at fake targets, and making victory speeches was not option. Furthermore, though the voters were not consciously aware of this, deep in their hearts they knew that she was the anointed one, and that the smoke of Rome would rise for her in the form of blue and red balloons. Therefore a year-long circus would have to be designed to turn a mirage into reality, to persuade the voters that cotton candy is a nutritious meal and that the clowns, the dancing elephants, and every act would inexorably lead to her grand finale high-wire act. Politics as spectacle would reach its apogee.

The challenge was to get a satisfactory turnout of the voters, persuade them that their votes matter, and make them forget that the choice was predetermined. This time around, it could no longer be a matter of Pepsi vs. Coke.  To sustain the voters’ attention, a set of captivating characters had to be cast. Like car models, known political brands were floated and discarded as so many lemons. Plays work better in three acts. It also seemed enticing to cast three main characters in our spaghetti-election triptych, where the good, the bad, and the ugly would be at odds with one another, and the bad would metamorphose into the pragmatic and reluctant warrior. Diana the Huntress would slay the limp Leftist Firebrand and subsequently become the lesser of the two evils in apposition to the hateful Ugly American.

Voting would not be about issues but largely fictitious connections. Those who worry about inequality and would normally have been apathetic to the futile exercise would be drawn into it because of their identification with the fake-left Firebrand. The so-called champion of the 99 percent, however, mainly offers to change the window dressing. His message resonates with those for whom lofty words like social justice translate directly into personal bread-and-butter issues such as a $15 minimum wage, universal health care and free college tuition, but not the plight of those who are scattered to the winds by the Empire’s wars, and certainly not the status of those who are incarcerated, or who are trapped in slave labor in prisons and in the sweatshops of places like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Haiti. To plant a tree, the soil must be dug up and loosened, but the fake left merely scrapes the surface.

The huntress has already proven her ruthlessness and ability to kill the innocent. This makes the voters feel safe. They understand that she is “fighting for us” and can pull the trigger. Although she was never an executioner governor who gleefully implemented the death penalty, by supporting the expansion of wars and weapons sales she has caused enough deaths to fulfill the rite of passage. The voters know that, unlike Lady Macbeth, her bloodstained hands do not trouble her. The Saudis and Goldman Sachs know that she would pursue yet more endless wars to wreck countries and exploit their people and resources. More than ever, the principles of national sovereignty and resource nationalism would be savaged and treated as attacks on the Empire. The destabilizations of Venezuela, Russia, Brazil, Iran, and China, which are already in the works economically, would rise to the top of the agenda and develop into fomented civil wars disguised as pseudo-revolutions. The Greater Israel Project would continue unabated. Drones would darken the skies like the Pterodactyls of the Empire. From Haiti to Honduras, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the trails of destruction would expand into highways of tanks and trucked ammunition on one hand, and millions of refugees and the blood of their relations on the other.

Diana the Huntress is a feminist in the same vein as Catherine the Great, not Simone de Beauvoir, yet the huntress promises that, as the dystopian Empire’s first empress, she will slay patriarchy itself. Although some say that she likes women as well as her philandering consort, this does not mean that she will champion the interests and rights of her own gender. The gender gimmick is meant to convince voters that they will be part of an historic moment and, beyond this, to make them scream a shrill “I am with her!” at all her perceived enemies in a grand pseudo-feminist catharsis.

The Black and Latino voters are being set up to stampede toward the huntress as they desperately flee the whip of the confederate urbanite cowboy Ugly American. She will hold back her arrows, but once the dust settles and the votes are guaranteed, black and brown lives will not matter. Empresses do not believe in democracy. One has only to look at Haiti, where she demanded that the results of a presidential election be changed to guarantee that her house slave would run the plantation. There, her consort organized, as an experiment, a pay-to-play government with their lords so as to turn the country into a resort-sweatshop-bordello.  The same model could be exported anywhere.

Haitians have been too shrewd to take the bait of the simulacrum of a democracy. They know that the rice and beans are laced with rat poison and the water is contaminated with cholera. Twice in two months they boycotted the fake elections, protested, and reduced the attendance at the polls to less than 10 percent of the eligible voters. The third time, the cheated political parties and disgusted human rights groups vowed that they would not participate, and the projected turnout dropped so close to zero that the elections had to be scrapped under the pretext of a fear of violence. In 1804, Haiti brought to the new world a revolution where the rights of men finally included an end to slavery. In 2015, Haitians showed the world how to put a wrench in imperial-colonial democracy; they showed that voters must rebel against the machinations that each time deliver a lesser evil so much worse than the last, that no more shades of wickedness are left from which to choose. The exercise of one’s democratic rights in a preordained election is to stay away from the circus; ignore the spectacle of the good, the bad, and the ugly; and refuse to be corralled through a series of decisions with predetermined outcomes. In imperial elections, there is one and only one civic duty, and it is to boycott.

Editor’s Notes: Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire, and Dady Chery is the author of We Have Dared to Be Free. Photographs one by John Weiss, two by Katherine Johnson, six by Gilbert Mercier, and eight by Joe.


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